From manure to explosives

Ranchi, June 27: The scent of common fertiliser led the security forces to the massive arsenal of explosives on the outskirts of the state capital yesterday, with the police today confirming that the consignment was to be transported to Porahat forests of West Singhbhum for Maoist zonal commander Kundan Pahan who is keen on stocking up his armoury before the monsoon kicks in with full fury.

Of all the stuff that was seized, ammonium nitrate must have been the easiest to source as it is commonly used as fertiliser. But the security forces were lucky to seize over 1,000kg of it along with 20,000 gelatine sticks, over 12,000 electronic and ordinary detonators and 1,900 meter fuse wire, a combination that makes plant food deadly.

“We were lucky to have been able to seize the ammonium nitrate along with the detonators and gelatine sticks before it reached its destination,” IG (operations) S.N. Pradhan said.

The Centre has asked all state governments to regulate supply of ammonium nitrate, keeping in mind its lethal capabilities. Hence, the police were always on the lookout, he explained.

“They (rebels) will keep using fertilisers to make can bombs as they can’t get high-end explosives like RDX unless they tie up with terrorist organisations,” Pradhan said, adding the seizure of detonators and gelatine sticks had, however, once again exposed the nexus between illegal stone crushers and Maoists.

The Porahat forests share Khunti district borders in the north and is flanked by Seraikela-Kharsawan district in the east and the neighbouring state of Odisha in the west.

The Howrah-Nagpur line of South Eastern Railway passes through its south.

The recovery was made from a roadside building at village Dundigarha in Tupudana, strategically located for easy access to Khunti (30km), Chaibasa (160km) and East Singhbhum (120km) and used by rebels as a distribution point.

Police, sources said, was monitoring negotiations between suppliers and the Maoist. “We have seized Rs 20,000 sent by Pahan. We believe he wanted to test a small consignment before accepting the entire lot,” said a police officer.
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